‘I should be grateful’
Pieter Boskma is a cosmic poet and has been since his first collections: a wide panoply of verse full of ecstatic moments, metaphysical revelations, idyllic and elegaic flushes, his work contains it all.
Cosmic poets are rather thin on the ground in the Netherlands and so they immediately stand out, like Herman Gorter and Hendrik Marsman in their days. Boskma too is an exceptional phenomenon; no poet in the Netherlands can be swept along so intensely by mysticism, magic and the overwhelming impact of reality.
He is not a philosophical or psychological poet but a singer who is not averse to myth. When he is dealing with love and eroticism, for example, it is as if the whole earth is at stake. He is also quite happy to talk about ‘the Girl’, a kind of prototype of the admired and desired woman, a real muse. But however convincing his lyricism about nature and (wo)mankind may be, he also has a sense of humour that occasionally cuts those exalted feelings and blazing forces down to size and brings his stampeding thoughts to heel.
One of his most impressive collections is The Earthly Comedy (2002), a huge ‘novel in verse’ that vies with the great poetry of the past. The death of his wife inspired the impressive mourning collection Dying Bloom (2010), followed by the ecstatic song of spring Human Hand (2012) in which he brings a new wife, Hera, to life. In it, between the cosmic acts, he sits on a terrace and experiences ‘nothing but charm and pleasant travel blues’, indicating that even the Netherlands’ most unconstrained of poets’ has his more restrained moments.